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In 1929 the Ford family moved into their new home, Gaukler Point, designed by architect Albert Kahn with landscape architecture by Jens Jensen, on the shore of Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan, United States.
Construction on the house began in 1926, after the Fords traveled with Kahn to England. There, they were attracted to the vernacular architecture of the Cotswolds in England and asked Kahn to design a house that would look like the closely assembled village cottages typical of the rural region. Kahn’s design included sandstone exterior walls, a traditional slate roof, with slates decreasing in size as they reach its peak, and moss and ivy grown across the house’s exterior.
While construction of the house itself took only one year, two were spent fitting it with antique wood paneling and fireplaces brought from English Manor houses; interior fittings were in the hands of Charles Roberson, an expert in adapting old European paneling and fittings to American interiors. The Gallery, the largest room in the house, is paneled with sixteenth-century oak linenfold relief carved wood panelling. Its hooded chimneypiece is from Wollaston Hall in Worcestershire, England, the timber-framed house had been demolished in 1925 and its dismantled elements and fittings were in the process of being dispersed. Fourteenth century stained-glass window medallions were added to the house in the late 1930s. Roberson's barrel-vaulted ceiling for the Gallery was modeled on one at Boughton Malherbe, Kent, England. Paneling and doors in the Dining Room, entirely devoid of electricity, came from 'New Place', a victim of early twentieth-century expansion in Upminster, a new suburb of London. . The Library's paneling and its stone chimneypiece came from the Brudenell seat, Deene Park, Northamptonshire, England. Harris suggests that this already once removed paneling had come from another 'Brudenell seat.' The Study has a wooden overmantel with the date 1585, from Heronden Hall,in Kent.town in northeast London, England
Other interesting design elements include kitchen counters made of sterling silver, a "secret" photographic darkroom behind a panel of Edsel Ford's office, and Art Deco style rooms designed by Walter Dorwin Teague, a leading industrial designer of the 1930s. Teague’s first floor “Modern Room” features 'the new' indirect lighting method, taupe colored leather wall panels, and a curved niche with eighteen vertical mirrored sections. He also designed bedrooms and sitting rooms for all three of Edsel and Eleanor’s sons. Teague’s design for son Henry Ford II’s bathroom includes grey glass walls made of the same structural glass as its shower stall.
The house featured an extensive art collection, reflecting Edsel and Eleanor’s status as serious museum benefactors. After Eleanor Ford’s death, many important paintings were donated to the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). Reproductions were hung in their place. The classical French-style Drawing Room features two original Paul Cezanne paintings and reproductions of Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas works. A reproduction of Vincent van Gogh's The Postman Roulin hangs in the Morning Room. An original Diego Rivera painting, Cactus on the Plains, hangs in the Modern Room.
The estate's gardens were designed by landscape architect Jens Jensen with his traditional 'long view,' giving visitors a glimpse of the residence down the long meadow after the passing the entry gates, then brief partial views along the long drive, and only at the end revealing the entire house and another view back up the long meadow.
The grounds of the estate include a power house and a gate house along affluent Lake Shore Drive, often mistaken for the actual house. The gate house includes apartments formerly used by staff and an eight-car garage with a turntable to rotate cars so they don’t need to back out. The Recreation House beyond the man-made lagoon and swimming pool contains changing rooms and a squash court with spectator’s gallery. Closer to the gate house is Josephine Ford’s child-sized playhouse, built for her by her grandmother Clara (Mrs. Henry Ford), in 1930. It features working electricity and plumbing and an exterior decorated with characters from nursery rhymes.
Edsel Ford died in this house in 1943 and his wife Eleanor Ford lived there until her death in 1976. It was her wish that the property be used for "the benefit of the public." The Edsel & Eleanor Ford House is now open to the public for tours. Located on 87 acres (350,000 m2) at 1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan 48236, the 20,000 square feet (1,858 m2) house has a fine collection of original antiques and art, and beautiful lakefront grounds. The house currently hosts special events, classes and lectures, The estate, at 1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan 48236, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- ^ Bridenstine, James (1989). Edsel and Eleanor Ford House. Wayne State University Press. Pp. 12-13
- ^ Sources of interiors at Meadow Brook Farm are drawn from John Harris, Moving Rooms: The Trade in Architectural Salvages 2007:213.
- ^ Bridenstine, Pg. 13
- ^ Harris 2007 documents the source in a Roberson brochure, p 213 and figs. 225-26.
- ^ Harris 2007.
- ^ Bridenstine, Pg. 48
- ^ Bridenstine, Pg. 68
- ^ http://www.dia.org/
- ^ Bridenstine, Pg. 23
- ^ Bridenstine, Pg. 45
- ^ Bridenstein, Pg. 45
- ^ Grese, Robert E., Jens Jensen, Maker of Natural Parks and Gardens. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. isbn 0-8018-4287-5. pp. 102, 152, 157-58, 180, 160, 162-63, 174, 182.
- ^ a b Bridenstine, Pg. 81
- ^ Bridenstine, Pgs. 80-82
- ^ "Edsel and Eleanor Ford House". National Park Service. http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/detroit/d2.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
References and further reading
- A&E with Richard Guy Wilson, Ph.D.,(2000). "America's Castles: The Auto Baron Estates," A&E Television Network.
- Bak, Richard (2003). Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire. Wiley ISBN 0471234877
- Bridenstine, James (1989). Edsel and Eleanor Ford House. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0814321615.
- Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3.
- Meyer, Katherine Mattingly and Martin C.P. McElroy with Introduction by W. Hawkins Ferry, Hon A.I.A. (1980). Detroit Architecture A.I.A. Guide Revised Edition. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1651-4.